Arrival at Keflavik international airport and transfer to Reykjavík. Depending on the hour of arrival, we will try and see any one or all of the following: The ornithological department of the Icelandic Natural History Museum, the Lake in the centre of Reykjavík ( usually 15 - 20 species, sometimes interesting strays) and in the evening the Reforestation Centre in Reykjavík where thousands of small birds, and usually some rare vagrants, come to spend the night.
We leave for the western part of Iceland via the Hvalfjörður, the bay of whales, renowned for it's big flocks of Eiders, Oystercatchers, etc as well as it's antiquated whaling station and World War II historical remains. The afternoon will be spent examining the extremely varied bird life of Straumfjörður (27 breeding species, over 40 regularly sighted): Plovers, Purple Sandpipers, Dunlins, Snipes, Black-tailed Godwits, etc.
This is also the place where the French polar explorer Jean Charcot's ship, the Pourquoi Pas, perished in 1936.
Overnight at Borgarnes.
This entire day will be spent examining the bird life of the Snæfellsnes peninsula, as well as it's spectacular volcanic craters, the Eldborg and the Snæfellsjökull glacier, departure point for Jules Verne's Voyage to the Centre of the Earth. Löngufjörur (Long beaches) and the numerous ponds and lakes on the southern side of the peninsula are burgeoning with bird life in this early part of the summer, and at Arnarstapi (Eagles cliff) we will come upon a large colony of kittiwakes so docile that one can almost pat them on the head.
On the northern side of the peninsula, we will encounter the largest breeding colony of Arctic Terns in Iceland. Overnight at Stykkishólmur.
We will set out in the early morning on a boat- trip to examine the bird life of some of the 2.500 islands which dot the bay of Breiðafjörður: shags, cormorants, guillemots and puffins are abundant and the White-tailed eagle also breeds on several small islands. On the island of Flatey (Flat-island) we will have a chance of spotting the Grey Phalarope.
By car-ferry across the bay over to Brjánslækur and the valley of Vatnsdalur where Ptarmigans abound. Overnight at Hotel Flókalundur.
We start the day by crossing over to Látrabjarg, the country's most impressive bird cliffs, over 12 miles long and in places standing more than a 1000 feet tall. Here, it is mainly the overwhelming number of the birds, in their hundreds of thousands, that leaves an everlasting memory with the visitor.
A long and winding road will then take us from one fjord to the next, via several impressive mountain passes to the main- town of the Icelandic western fjords, Ísafjörður, for an overnight stay.
Again we start the day by setting out on a boat-trip, this time to the Æðey (Eider-island), where, by making our way on foot around this small island, we can indeed pat some of the birds on the head! Protected by man, especially from fox and mink, Eiders of course abound here, producing the valuable eiderdown and on this island we can really see how the synergy of man and birds can be tuned almost to perfection.
Overnight at the Hotel Reykjanes where seals bask on a nearby beach.
This day we will travel from the western fjords towards North Iceland, via Húnafjörður (the fjord of Polar-bear cubs, but unlikely to be encountered!). The highlights of the day will be the Hvítserkur (White frock) rock, so named because of it's white guano coating left by the sea birds over the centuries.; the Borgarvirki hilltop fortress and the estuary of the river Blanda, where Harlequin ducks have recently started to breed. Overnight at Blönduós.
Passing through the Langidalur (Long valley) alongside the river Blanda, we are likely to come upon large flocks of geese (Pink-footed, Grey Lag or sometimes even Barnacle Geese) as well as the Whooper Swan. After lunch at Akureyri, the capital of North Iceland, we will head for the forest of Vaglaskógur where Whimbrels, Redwings, Wheatears, Wrens, Meadow Pipits and the Short-eared owl can all be found.
Then arriving late in the day at the Icelandic bird watchers paradise, lake Mývatn, for an overnight stay at Hotel Mývatn, overlooking the lake.
A whole day spent around the lake, looking for most or all of the lake's 14 species of ducks, among them the Barrow's Goldeneye, the Harlequin, the Red-breasted Merganser, etc, as well as Gyr Falcons, Merlins, Owls, Phalaropes, etc.
We will set out in the early morning for a counterclockwise tour of the Tjörnes peninsula, starting with a visit to Europe's most majestic waterfall, the Dettifoss. At Axarfjörður (Axe's fjord), Gannets are frequently seen plunging into the sea for their catch, Fulmars and Puffins are common in the Tjörnes cliffs and on the western side of the peninsula, at Hallbjarnarstaðir, we will go and observe the interesting layers of sedimentary rock containing both warm water and arctic seashells which prove that in the past the climate of Iceland has at various times both been much warmer and far colder than it is today. Overnight at Húsavík.
The bulk of the day will be spent whale watching on the bay of Skjálfandi (Dolphins, Minke whales, Porpoises, Humpback and sometimes even the giant Fin whales, the biggest animals on earth). Time allowing, we can also make a visit to Lundey (Puffin island) or to another Flatey, both uninhabited and swarming with bird life. Overnight at Húsavík
We will start the day by visiting the Whale Centre at Húsavík (supported by the W.W.F), and then head inland for the valley of Laxárdalur (Salmon River valley) where the biggest salmons of Icelandic rivers are generally found and the upper part of that valley is also well known for it's bird life, especially some of the rarer species of ducks and foreign stray birds.
On the way back, we will visit the Folk Museum at Grenjaðarstaður, housed in an old Icelandic style turf-thatched farm, one of the best preserved of these unique constructions in the country. Late afternoon flight from Húsavík and overnight stay in Reykjavík.
Transfer to airport and return flight.
Duration of tour: 13 days, 12 nights.
Minimum number of passengers: 2 persons.
Departures: Two departures, in early summer only.
Deposit amount at reservation: 20% ; Single room supplement: +16%
Trade enquiries welcome. (Agents wanted worldwide)
Scheduled departures for 2014: See Schedules
Conditions of sale.
Scheduled departures for 2014: See Schedules
Necessary gear: Good outdoor clothing and sturdy footwear. Binoculars and scopes. Also bring your swimsuit.
Single room extra: +16%
Deposit amount: 30%
Trade enquires welcome.
Services included: Four wheel drive transportation, guidance. All accommodation in good hotels in twin-bedded rooms or farm accommodation or similar, in double rooms, usually with "en suite" facilities, all meals starting with lunch (picnic style when we are birdwatching) on first day and ending with breakfast on departure day.
All ferry and boat-trips, entry to local museums and return flight from North-Iceland to Reykjavík.
Single room supplement: +16%
Services not included:The price does not include travel insurance, drinks and other items of a personal nature.
Air travel to and from Iceland is not included, however, at your request, we can arrange this part of your travel arrangements as well.
Operated: Only 2 times during the main birding season months.
Note: As with any travel in Iceland, the tour may come momentarily to a halt for reasons of bad weather, flooded roads or other unforeseeable "force majeure" causes.
Valferðir ehf, acting in good faith, will not accept any responsibility for inconvenience or extra-cost incurred because of such events.